Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Where are you and where are you going?
suomalainen
Posts: 343
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Thu Nov 30, 2017 3:01 pm

@Fish. All fair points. The difference is here:
Fish wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:37 pm
this is my reasoning for always selecting more free time over the money when presented with a choice: My marginal propensity to consume (as income is increased) is zero, and I am content with the level of savings I have achieved, which is about 10 years of expenses...you are free to make better lifestyle decisions without the constraint to maximize income.
My marginal propensity to consume is also zero, but I am not content with the level of savings I have achieved, which (if you squint) is 10 years of expenses + a paid-off house. Tax rules and whatnot mean I really only have 3-4 years of expenses in liquid assets. Could I do something different for 3-4 years? Sure. But then what? Perhaps I'm different from other folks here, and not to suggest that I'm NOT a renaissance man, but when I do things other than work, I don't want to think about money. I do my own construction work. Would I do it as a hobby? Sure. Would I do it for money? FUCK NO. (Would I ask myself rhetorical questions and then answer them? Obviously.)
Fish wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:37 pm
Is there any concrete impact to your life when you hit your number?
Does psychology count as being "concrete"? My life is sorta the life I wouldn't want to retire from...except for the 9 hours a day I give to The Man. And I am starting to come around to looking at puttering around as the purpose of life or as the womb of life, I guess, rather than an annoying waste of a boring life. I come across as a pessimist, but you know why that is? Because I'm such a fucking naive optimist that when my life doesn't match my optimism, I am crushed. Hence all the therapy.

Anyway, thanks for your perspective. Always good to be challenged.

@jp
jennypenny wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:45 pm
Maybe you're tempted to switch jobs because you like the idea of being busier at work since you're at the peak kid phase? (not judging, just asking)
I joke about this from time to time, but not really. I hate the constant (and I mean CONSTANT) bickering. I hear it as bickering/fighting, but to them, they're just interacting. They have transitioned from being my babies to being little men. It's been a challenge for me (and them, likely) to figure out this transition. We're moving into a kind of stalemate, which has been intimately non-intimate if that makes any sense. Boys. :roll:

Admittedly, and I sorta feel like a pansy for feeling this way, but I like the idea of being busier because I like the feeling of accomplishing something and being valued by others. At my current job, I only get to feel like I accomplish something occasionally, because everything is over-lawyered. I work on deals with at least 2-3 law firms on them, plus any number of in-house counsel (like me). Only when I catch something that the 15 other lawyers have missed do I feel like I added any value. It's tough to go to work with that psychology. And also at my current job, I have smart clients who appreciate me and see my value...but they can't pay me. This new job is a situation where the 2-3 people who are recruiting me are like fawning over me (it's actually really, really weird), but the difference is that they CAN pay me. Substantially more.

**

And after all that, the update: if they accept my comp proposal, I'm 99% sure I'll be going to the firm. The shit sandwich I want to eat is figuring out for the next 5 years "what do I do with all this money" rather than "what do I do with all this free time"? I've tried the latter for 6 years and if you've gotten a sense of me from these boards, you'd know it's not going that well...

In the end, I think I'd like puttering around more if I didn't have to squeeze it in after 9 hours at someone else's work.

suomalainen
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Re: November Update

Post by suomalainen » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:55 pm

Fish wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:37 pm
...the level of savings I have achieved, which is about 10 years of expenses. At Wheaton level 2-3 the standard advice is to accumulate 8-10 years of expenses by normal retirement age. Under today's rules, I can still "win the game" while living at a 0% savings rate, or slightly negative even -- all that is needed is to ensure the stash keeps up with my personal cost of living. The point is that money is no longer a scarce resource. And when you are able to convince yourself of this, you are free to make better lifestyle decisions without the constraint to maximize income.
Wait, wait, wait. What are you saying here? I've always thought of working/saving/retiring to occur in this order:
(1) work full time AND save up to a number that generates a 3-4% SWR (call this the "Target"),
(2) quit,
(3) live off income generated by the Target.

Are you suggesting something like this:
(1) work full time AND save up to X% of Target,
(2) work part time to cover expenses until (call it) 65, with no additional saving needed,
(3) X% of Target compounds over the interval of #2 to Target,
(4) live off income generated by the Target?

Mind blown. Please expound. Some questions:

1) I'm 39. Given inflation and everything else that can happen...how do you get any comfort in Target 25 years out? Or is this one of those things where you just adjust in the future if you have to?
2) I'm currently at 42% of Target. Even assuming a 4% return (perhaps I can take comfort in that being a real rather than nominal return?), I get to 1.16x Target by age 65.

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Fish
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Re: November Update

Post by Fish » Thu Dec 14, 2017 2:30 am

suomalainen wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:55 pm
Are you suggesting something like this:
(1) work full time AND save up to X% of Target,
(2) work part time to cover expenses until (call it) 65, with no additional saving needed,
(3) X% of Target compounds over the interval of #2 to Target,
(4) live off income generated by the Target?
Even (1) and (2) alone might be enough if the rules of retirement don't change(*), meaning SS and/or pensions can be relied upon to make up the shortfall of only saving 8-10x. ("The safety net is the plan.") I certainly don't suggest setting the bar this low, but even this level of retirement preparedness would still be average or better. You also own your house in full. If this is a reasonable worst case scenario, what is there to fear?

If you add elements (3) and (4) you get @black_son_of_gray's Deliberately coasting to FI concept.

(*) Implicit in this is a pledge to do one's best to keep up with market downturns and rule changes as they occur. But trying to prepare for all possible futures in the usual manner only leads to over-accumulation and more "money as scarce resource" thinking. That index investing forum is full of examples such as sub-2% WRs and unusual obsessions with TIPS and paper I-bonds. Thinking through SHTF situations and being prepared is a good idea. But at some point it becomes futile to solve a "not enough money" problem with "more money" when the real problem is reliance on money.
suomalainen wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:55 pm
1) I'm 39. Given inflation and everything else that can happen...how do you get any comfort in Target 25 years out? Or is this one of those things where you just adjust in the future if you have to?
I don't want to say too much here, because I haven't proved the concept yet (still living at 66% SR). But basically it comes down to agency (what Jacob describes as "the attitude that any problem can be fixed, given enough resources in the form of time, effort and determination"). You have to decide what your minimum requirement is for capital accumulation. For me, having enough to fight the last war seems like a good starting point. Coincidentally (or not), it's also how much I happen to have. I'm not done accumulating, but my focus has shifted to improving quality of life. Money is a solved problem.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:39 am

Jason wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:57 am
(1) Change at this stage in our lives should be limited to mental adjustments...
(2) Reminding ourselves we are not broke ass and we do not have to scurry around for every last acorn. Not all money is worth chasing.
...
(6) I am going to carry around my little fu in my hand like that Gollum dude in LOTR, stroking it, calling it precious, because I just can't get enough of telling people to go eff themselves;
Fish wrote:
Thu Dec 14, 2017 2:30 am
I'm not done accumulating, but my focus has shifted to improving quality of life. Money is a solved problem.
This is great. It really is like a momentous shift in perspective for me. I sorta don't know what to do with it; must give it more time to digest. In the meantime, I had somewhat already come around to @Fish's point of view anyway, and this was a draft post I had already written:

Job Offers and the Long View
I've given a shitton of thought to switching jobs. On the one hand is a more intense, really-high-paying job; on the other is a more flexible (day to day), high-paying job. Two things became clear as my discussions progressed: 1) my wife is a real limitation on my grand life plans; 2) my grand life plans would mean nothing to me without my wife. (The other thing I should mention here is just how chock full of wisdom the discussions in @brute's journal are. Great work everyone, truly.) My grand plans, including switching jobs, would all lose their luster after a few years; my interest wanders and I need a shiny new object every few years. But my wife, for all her annoyances and idiosyncrasies, has not lost her luster after 17 years; she has actually shined brighter with every year. And what she wants is a stable, suburban upbringing for our kids.

What this means in terms of the job is that either job will likely be as engaging/interesting as the other; it's just that one will be more demanding than the other. Since I am whipped and we will be in this area for at least 10 more years until the youngest graduates high school, the option with greater day-to-day flexibility is more appealing to us as a family. So @fish, you were right in the end.* (Edit from draft: @fish and @jason are right in the sense that "money is a solved problem" so I "do not have to scurry around for every last acorn". This morning it feels a little like waking up to lower case "fu money".)

*It also turns out that the two guys I was discussing the position with ran up against institutional inertia and the firm was not able to meet my terms which made the decision fairly easy. And after running the numbers again using the firm's numbers, the firm job did not change my end date sufficiently to be enticing to me (see also discussion of health insurance below).

What this experience may have taught me (if anything), is that I might truly be ready for a change - it's just that this wasn't the right situation for me, and if/when I do find a right situation, I still shouldn't expect too much from the change. It'll just be another step on the journey, and not the destination. (Edit from draft: and it looks like I have way more flexibility than I originally thought on what that change could look like.)
FBeyer wrote:
Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:47 am
Positive Psychology has boiled people's happiness down to three major components: The Sensory, the Engaged, and the Meaningful life.
Sensory: Eating, sex, hiking, good company, concerts, exhibitions etc. These things you get better at by training your ability to appreciate them ie Mindfulness. The primary pitfall of this is Hedonic Adaptation, naturally.
Engaged: Flow, put shortly. Something that really engages you and challenges you at the same time. Something you get good at by repeated practice and by seeking out challenges that are intellectually challenging to you and also fit within your framework of interests.
The Meaningful: Doing something for others while experiencing and appreciating the effect it has. Help someone move ahead in life, do something that reaches beyond you and help your community, for any given of definition of community.
I will say that this is the one thing that continues to stump me. I've been working on the sensory (guitar, hiking, mindfulness) and the meaningful (family), but I'm not really engaged or challenged at work any more. I'm not sure if this is something I can recapture or if this is something I just need to find outside of work. It is hard to compartmentalize your life and only "live" when you're not at work/getting ready for work/decompressing from work (~11 hours a day).

Health Insurance/Care and Risk Management

One consideration about this whole ERE-with-kids-in-the-US thing is medical insurance. I have a friend who retired around the age of 50 with twin girls around the age of 10. This year, his premium for health insurance for his family of 4 on the exchanges was $48,000! I have no idea if that was the cheapest plan, the most expensive plan or somewhere in between, but even directionally it is frightening. That almost leads me to believe that regardless of how much money I have saved, I have to have a job, even for the health insurance alone, until the kids are launched into their own lives (health plans, really). At the same time, as someone on this forum is fond of saying (can't remember who), there's no reason for current-me to worry about this now thinking that future-me is incapable of figuring this out when the time comes. The caveat to that line of thinking is "it's not about you." Planning for / worrying about 5 people is exponentially more fraught than planning for 1. (Edit: So, I still "need" health insurance, so I can't just take any shitty part-time job to "coast to FI", but it did start me thinking about a part-time arrangement with my current employer, maybe in a year or two so I can get closer to a 50% of Target savings.)

jennypenny
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by jennypenny » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:47 am

Hey Fish, wanna start a 'money is a solved problem' thread and expound on what you said? I don't want to clog S's journal, but I have a lot of questions about what you and S mean when you say that.

@S--Health care is the only reason DH is still at his job. With have a minor with serious health issues that would be too stressful to handle without access to an excellent plan. ACA didn't solve that problem either. So he continues to work to have access to that plan and to save up the biggest nest egg possible for when DS needs healthcare and can no longer get it through us.

suomalainen
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Re: December Update

Post by suomalainen » Fri Dec 15, 2017 6:16 pm

Assets/Net Worth/Liquid Net Worth

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I sold the remaining vested options I had in my company within 0.5% of the stock's all-time high. That brought my compensation for the year up to a ridiculously high level. It helps that in the 6 years I've worked for this company, the stock has quintupled. I didn't capture all of those gains, due to the annual timing of my stock awards (and their liquidation), but it certainly helped. In the end, I think you get rich by piling big into one bet and getting lucky; it's also how you get poor, so I diversify - I bought a bunch of dividend stocks with my option proceeds, including some more in stocks that had gone down 15-20%. I think I now have 21 stocks that will pay dividends quarterly (and a few that are on European schedules (annual or semi-annual, I think)). I can't wait to see this graph grow!

Dividends (PA only)

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suomalainen
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From ERE:ing to LIVING

Post by suomalainen » Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:16 pm

2017 Year End Review

Sometimes it's hard to remember things about yourself. Maybe it's the traumatic brain injury, or maybe everyone has the same problem that you live with yourself 24/7 and it's hard to remember exactly when your thought of X morphed into Y. In any event, it's been good to start journaling here, so that it gives me a place to look back on my prior selves and see how I've grown (or regressed, but at least changed in either case).

One thing I do remember is that I really wanted to pay off my debts as soon as possible after I graduated law school in 2006 and it was important to me to have my wife validate that. At the same time, as a full-time mother, she has struggled with asserting her own desires while also feeling that insecurity, I guess, of being totally financially dependent on me. We settled into a truce whereby we would put a certain amount of money aside for saving and paying off debt and the rest would go to consumption. Raises, when I used to get substantial ones, would go to debt, so lifestyle inflation was kept to a minimum. Somewhere along the line around 2010, I had the realization that I could work and save my whole life only to retire and then die the next day (perhaps obvious is the underlying assumption that I don't love working for money). "Fuck that", I thought, so I decided to try to be at peace with my finances and to be patient with the process, knowing that I had selected a good process that would eventually get me to where I wanted to be financially. Things were good. And then I got hit by a car.

After my accident, my anxiety must have spiked or maybe I was always this anxious, I dunno, but in any case, I have fixated on early retirement ever since. That was late June 2014. I read all of MMM and his "The Shocking Simple Math Behind Early Retirement" made things click for me. I also found ERE around that time and started this journal, but disappeared from here shortly thereafter. People's stories in their journals about their progression and successes were both inspiring and frustrating, such that I had to step away, otherwise I would obsess.

But one question always bothered me -- what happens after early retirement? Both MMM and Jacob went back to work! I didn't judge them for it from an "internet retirement police" perspective, but it left a nagging irritation that financial independence was not actually an end. It was an answer begging for a question. So, for the last few months, I've been trying to puzzle out all of this and here have been a few ERE forum guide posts:

1) It started with A Journey of Mindfulness--the remaking of Life in Midstream wherein @illinidave discussed his job and life and family setbacks and dream cabin among other things, which got me thinking about my wants and priorities and how I was living for the future rather than living in the present.

2)
BRUTE wrote:
Sun Nov 06, 2016 11:42 am
brute discovered that complete freedom of location and time can be very boring.
C40 wrote:
Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:12 pm
I’ve been keeping myself busy with travels and friends and various pursuits of leisure. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I’ve gotten in better shape physically. I’ve been happier. I’ve had less stress. My creative output has increased. I’ve certainly had some “is this all there really is to life? ughhh” thoughts, but, in a good way, I think.
wherein @brute and @c40 confirm my suspicion that my attitude towards financial independence was short-sighted. FI is no panacea; as I was looking at it, it was indeed a chimera - both in the sense of a magical thing as well as in the sense of being a dangerous thing. In other words, I was so focused on this magical future state that I was (am) not only not living in the present, but my future focus was actively destroying my present. It was consuming me. But it's not a bad thing! It's just that it is chimerical for someone in my position (my family, my skills, my desires, etc.) to think that I could live the vanlife of a single 20- or 30-something a la @c40 or @spoonman.

3) Money is a solved problem, discussed initially above in my journal and continued on a separate thread, wherein I realize that I have already arrived at that magical place anyway! Do I have 25x+ expenses saved in invested assets? No. But I'm almost halfway there and I can see to the end of the path, so at this point I have two choices, which crystallized in the form of a job opportunity: should I focus entirely on maximizing my income (to the detriment of everything else) or should I focus on maximizing my happiness? The unstated basis from which that question can reasonably be asked is that one is in a great (but non-FI) financial position.

4) Work, is it so bad? wherein @brute, @seppia, @conwy and others' discussion opened my mind to the idea that work could be a useful (if not 40 hour) part of the "life I wouldn't want to retire from".

5)
trailblazer wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:46 pm
For general inspiration in building a daily routine, I like the book Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. He provides short summaries of the daily routines of well known individuals...there is a surprising amount of puttering that takes place.
having read some of that book...well, it's surprising how much of life really is just boring. The non-curated, non-vacation-highlights-posted-to-facebook version of life is just fucking boring. You wake, you do some stuff, you eat, you shit, you groom, you sleep. The only real "problem" in life is to answer the question of what does "you do some stuff" look like?

6)
suomalainen wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 1:54 pm
This thought occurred to me a few days ago also while reading another thread (forget which one), where I think brute made the point that doing anything (scuba diving) for 40 hours a week would get boring. Rather than web-of-goals, my “mindfulness / be present in the moment” project is converging on web-of-pleasant-distractions.
Back in law school in 2005ish, I remember reading something about happiness - it might even have been a positive psychology thing, but anyway I remember stopping what I was reading and saying aloud "WTF?! Depression is just a distraction from being happy and happiness is just a distraction from being depressed?" At the time I was mortified because I thought there had to be more. It just seemed so fucking meaningless because "distractions" are by definition annoyances getting in the way of a more important thing and at that time in my life I just could not accept that the meaning of life was to distract you from boring yourself to death. But to paraphrase @c40...this really is all there is to life. Part of what is helping me to accept that little nugget is watching my parents get old. The highlight of their day is at 7am when they go for a walk with the dog. The rest of their days is puttering around doing basically nothing. AND THEY LOVE IT!

So, to summarize, as @fish put it
Fish wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:48 pm
So it seems ERE is now the following?

1. Establish 50%+ savings rate
2. Pay off debt and accumulate FU emergency fund
3. Settle into a comfortable job situation
4. Web-of-pleasant-distractions
5. Live happily after after?
and
Fish wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:11 am
White Coat Investor - Financial Independence Is Not The Holy Grail (December 23, 2016)
White Coat Investor wrote: I would submit that financial security comes before financial independence, and that it is really financial security that adds to your happiness. Once you have maxed that out, your life is not going to get any more happy from financial sources, no matter how much you make, have, or spend. If you want additional happiness, you will have to seek it outside the financial realm. [...]

There is some good news out of all this.
  1. You don’t have to wait until financial independence to be happy.
  2. You can increase your happiness by aligning your actual life with your ideal life as much as possible.
  3. Developing and following a financial plan that is highly likely to lead to financial independence will also make you happier, even before you hit your number.
I think these words are a fitting way to conclude this phase of wondering what the pursuit of FI is exactly about. Now for the hard part, which is the realization that the next steps beyond FU don't follow any particular script or plan. Cutting expenses can't be expected to bring fulfillment or happiness. If I have a problem, I can't blame it on not having enough money, because I have plenty of it. What to do now? Should I make a few small tweaks to optimize this working and family life I already have? Feel emboldened by FU-status and seek even better employment terms (fewer hours, less commute distance, more fulfilling work) or carve out some time for side-quests? Start working on a web-of-pleasant-distractions?

It's completely open-ended. I have no idea what I'm doing now. And there's no "standard solution" anymore. This will be FUN! :lol:
So, what's next?

Basically, I am working on my web-of-pleasant-distractions or my "daily ritual", which looks a bit like this: work (which includes working out and working on work relationships), followed by an evening of family, relaxing (TV or internet or sex or easy books) and/or hobbies (hard books, guitar). Weekends include a bit more hiking or biking or camping or skiing or building or fixing or things of that sort, mostly with the kids, but sometimes without.

The above journey also got me thinking about a "semi-retirement"-type approach wherein I downshift from full-time work (but still more than just cover-the-expenses). Looking at my company's HR page, I have a few options to try to be less full-time:

- Buy 5 days of vacation at my implied daily rate, in addition to my paid time off.
- Apply for unpaid time off, up to 3 months, every two years; requires manager and/or manager's manager's approval. Think sabbatical.
- Apply for a flexible work schedule. I'd need to be at least 70% time (3.5 days/week of 8hr/days) to qualify for benefits (health insurance). This can be a percentage of full time (70-100%) arranged in fewer than 5 8-hour days or 5 less-than-8-hour days or a combination of both, as agreed with the manager.
- Apply for working remotely and/or work from the company's Denver office, potentially combined with the flexible work schedule.

The first one is a no-brainer; the other two would likely encounter significant pushback given my "professional" role and the expectations surrounding being a "professional", but if it's important to me, then I should explore it a bit more to see if it's something I really want and whether this company (or another, like the firm) would be willing to be flexible with me. The fourth will require many discussions with the wife to see if we can't tear her away from her New England roots.

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Fish
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Re: From ERE:ing to LIVING

Post by Fish » Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:57 am

suomalainen wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:16 pm
FI is no panacea; as I was looking at it, it was indeed a chimera - both in the sense of a magical thing as well as in the sense of being a dangerous thing. In other words, I was so focused on this magical future state that I was (am) not only not living in the present, but my future focus was actively destroying my present.
There were a lot of good quotes in your post but I relate to this one best. Second place was "Things were good. Then I got hit by a car." and I hope that one never happens to me! :shock:

Following our discussions over the last few months I've gained more respect for what JD Roth calls The Six Stages of Financial Freedom. I kinda pooh-poohed the whole post the first time I encountered it, having punkish thoughts of "I'm going straight to stage 5 (FI)... the previous levels are filler for PF noobs." Now I think JD was right about it all along, that there are very distinct stages.
  • Stage 3: Free Agency - The ability to work and live how and where you want. (Debt-free including mortgage, or enough liquid funds available to pay off all loans if desired)
  • Stage 4: Financial Security - aka "barebones FI" - investment income enough to cover basic needs.
  • Stage 5: Financial Independence - Investment income covers preferred standard of living.
By fixating on the FI milestone and the freedom from work that it promises, I think we quietly achieved the financial aspects of stages 3 and (arguably) 4 without realizing their lifestyle benefits. It was only because stage 5 is so hard to reach with a normal consumer family in tow, that we started questioning the FI goal and independently rediscovered these intermediate stages which other PF-bloggers had already identified and discussed.

Furthermore, I submit that these stages correlate with, but are not caused by, actual net worth levels. That is, these stages are more about mindsets and less about wealth (like the distinction between the lower and upper class). For example, sacrificing one's way to 3% SWR is not "true FI" -- it's level 4 at best because spending urges need to be fought to maintain the FI-status. Similarly, if you have the money to be at level 4 but you never even re-examined your life since surpassing stage 2 wealth, you're still at stage 2. I think that's where we were stuck.
suomalainen wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:16 pm
The fourth will require many discussions with the wife to see if we can't tear her away from her New England roots.
My children enjoy a close relationship with their grandparents and extended family; one reason for living where we do is to maximize and cherish such experiences as it is precious and limited. We could cash out our house, move to a lower COL area and take a giant leap towards FI, but it's totally meaningless if we don't spend our time with those we love most. Just a thought as you consider uprooting your family to improve your work situation.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:05 am

The moving to Denver thing would be a lifestyle move not a FI or work move. My parents moved there last year and I love the mountains and the sunshine and western culture. We’ve spent over a decade a few hours from her parents, so we both recognize “I’ve done my time.” Plus, wife has sisters in NM and TX, so we’d be within driving distance of other of her family. I’m not sure how “close” she would characterize the relationship, but she certainly wouldn’t initiate a cross-state move on her own.

The working remote thing is because I don’t really want to work in Denver proper, adding the commute and traffic and hordes of people of a large (and growing) metropolis. Colorado Springs to the south or Fort Collins to the north could be nice, though.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:57 pm

uggggghhhhhhhhhh. Snowstorm so I "worked from home" today while the kids had the day off. Having a bad "parent day" and probably also a "bad parent" day. Sometimes it's really hard to know if you're reacting because you're irritated and it's your problem or because you're worried about them turning into assholes.

I hate this shit.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by jennypenny » Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:32 pm

Now you know why parents fork over big bucks to send their kids away to college. By the time they're 18, you're willing to pay any price to get them out of the house. ;)

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Family father
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Family father » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:00 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:57 pm
Having a bad "parent day" and probably also a "bad parent" day. Sometimes it's really hard to know if you're reacting because you're irritated and it's your problem or because you're worried about them turning into assholes.
I emphatize with you there.. :cry:

We need to be more zen ;)

suomalainen
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January Update

Post by suomalainen » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:39 pm

Parenting
@ff and @jp - it actually does help to feel "community support" so to speak, so thank you.

On days like that, I think about how people say "We want kids." And I think to myself, no you don't want kids. You want babies. But you know what happens to babies? Reminds of this:

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Assets/Net Worth/Liquid Net Worth

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You'll notice that my assets have now crossed on of those milestone markers. Yay? I guess? The number doesn't really mean much to me due to volatility, but I guess it's something seeing as how humans like round numbers. Net worth is $57k behind due to 1 student loan left at a <2% fixed interest rate. And somehow the dates got screwed up, but I'm too lazy to go fix it.

Dividends (PA only)

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Diet
Carbs were plentiful in the period starting Halloween through Thanksgiving...or Christmas...or maybe even New Years...or ok so also through my wife's birthday (last week)...or through yesterday. But I suppose I still did better than usual for end of year. I gained 5-7 pounds over those months (some of it carb-related water weight), but I'm still down 12 or so from late summer even with the recent gain. Let's see if I can't whittle down the cakes and pies and chocolates again. I guess I did manage to mostly avoid "good" carbs like fruits and whole-grain breads and oatmeal and pasta. :shock:

Mindfulness
Trying to weave a few disparate thought threads together - the ADHD thread, the meditation and metacognition thread, some of my thoughts expressed in prior journal entries and in discussions with my shrink: I think my "executive function" is too developed, to put it kindly. Whether expressed as I think too much or I make plans that are disassociated from my reality or I get distracted by this curiosity or that...either way, it's a runaway thought train.

ERE and getting to my FI number is one example. Simultaneously wanting (or thinking I want or at least thinking about) the many delightful lives I read about here and elsewhere such as @halfmoon's off-grid mountain life, @c40's vanlife, @brute1.0's travel and skankdolls life, @ffj's parttime construction projects life, @cmonkey's (I think, probably others too) homestead-y life is another. I want to experience them all, which somewhat shreds my soul, if there is such a thing, being pulled in so many directions at once. Or at least it taxes my mental and emotional capabilities.

My shrink thinks that I search externally for...meaning, maybe? Purpose? Like, I grew up in an authoritarian environment where "shoulds" were imposed on me by others. I've rejected that now, but I do appear to continue to have "shoulds" that I've internalized from external sources, perhaps, as an example, that I "should" be living this kind of life or that one (such as working/saving to get to my FI number before I can really start living). Or that I'm missing out by not living such-and-such kind of life or by doing this activity or taking advantage of that opportunity. His point is to stop paying attention to the "shoulds" and to pay attention to what I want to do. Implicit in the latter is the appendix "in the moment". Maybe that's a kind of "put aside the thinking, the planning" and "embrace the feeling". I dunno. If I do look at what I want to do right now, the fact is I'm kinda exhausted and I want to do nothing. Maybe meditation would help me quiet the "you're wasting your time/life by not doing this, that and the other" anxiety and just be. Maybe a full life is one that isn't full? A depth vs breadth issue? The one concern I have with that is what happens if "I want to do nothing" crosses over into "I don't want to do anything"? It's a bit too close to depression to feel comfortable. Must give that some more thought. Ha!

suomalainen
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Expenses Update

Post by suomalainen » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:53 pm

So, I finally took a half-ass look at our recent expenses. :shock:

2016

Amazon $4,467.83
Apple $2,336.22
Cash $1,664.19
Citibanks $3,093.88
Debit and Checks $2,384.07
Dining $5,356.14
Doctor/Dentist $6,015.98
Entertainment $5,603.41
Gas/Automotive $2,084.47
Grocery $9,418.44
Gym $516.00
Health Care $822.32
Home $5,044.89
Taxes and Insurance $9,061.08
LDS Church $475.00
Liquor $1,159.40
Merchandise $14,009.94
Other Services $1,241.47
Phone/Internet $2,122.27
Skiing $5,706.87
TaeKwanDo $0.00
Travel $7,152.84
Utilities $3,570.63

Total $89,736.71

2017

Amazon $5,562.49
Apple $662.65
Cash $1,417.00
Citibanks $1,164.65
Debit and Checks $2,876.25
Dining $4,648.08
Doctor/Dentist $4,896.00
Entertainment $4,463.64
Gas/Automotive $4,616.25
Grocery $11,542.96
Gym $1,800.00
Health Care $770.04
Home $6,609.90
Taxes and Insurance $12,723.48
LDS Church $835.00
Liquor $1,257.40
Merchandise $15,647.53
Other Services $1,733.83
Phone/Internet $2,287.01
Skiing $2,237.38
TaeKwanDo $3,535.00
Travel $7,939.12
Utilities $4,050.79

Total $103,276.45

Yeah. I don't really know what to say other than that a lot of that stuff is "stay sane" expenditures or "I'm too tired to deal with you" expenditures as parents. And the rest...well, I'm just not going to fight my wife any more on money matters. I picked my battles and won them, so she gets a pass on what I see as "smaller" battles. Needless to say, NFW can I retire before the kids are gone unless I open a secret account, stash some money in it, fake my own death and run off to Bolivia. :twisted: I guess having LDS Church and Liquor on sequential lines and liquor spending higher does make me smile.

I guess I should've invested in Amazon and Apple (other than thru index funds).

jacob
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by jacob » Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:21 pm

A few observations: First, you sure eat a lot of apples :P :mrgreen: Second, the combined affiliate spending from ALL visitors on the ERE blog is about $24,000/year. If you were/are part of that you'd be a whale. Third, somewhere, you're probably completely funding a ski-bum who teaches martial arts on the side and lives on 1 jacob.

Okay, enough fun kicking a man when he's down :?

Maybe some stress/meaning/mission can be found in recovering/generating some value. For starters, insofar some of the spending translates into stuff that's not used anymore, it could be ebay'ed or sold back. Not so much for the money anymore but more for the habit, setting an example, and decluttering. My selling is no longer for the money it brings back but more a fanatical desire to close the loops and bring unused stuff back into use. If anyone objects, you can always say it's environmental or therapeutic or something.

I noticed the LDS/Liquor thing too but you beat me to it. FYI, one can get a rather impressive home brewing system for $1000. At that rate, it's probably best to figure out a way not to drink it all before starting the brew. (Something I tend to fail at myself.)

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Demosthenes » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:56 pm

It looks like you have over $20,000 in misc spending. It might be worthwhile to break it down a bit more to identify where all the money is going.
Amazon: $5,562.49
Cash: $1,417.00
Merchandise: $15,647.53
Debit and Checks: $2,876.25

Then there's the curious expenditures
Grocery: $11,542.96 - How is this so expensive? You could argue that it's because you never go out but you're also spending 4,648.08 on dining.
Entertainment: $4,463.64 - Are you purchasing new instruments every year? Financing your jet ski?

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:22 pm

@jacob

Lotta itunes stuff both years, but wife bought a macbook pro in 2016. Yeah, I have no idea what was purchased on Amazon and I don't know if I want to look. I know I bought a six pack of deodorant! The skiing was double in 2016 since it was two years worth (prepaid for 2017 season in 2016) and it was for 4 people. Down to 3 people for the 2018 season. The martial arts is 3 kids (down to 2) since we told them they had to do SOMETHING, and only 1 something. The 3rd decided he'd prefer soccer.

Wife did force the boys to clean their rooms and get rid of shit they haven't used in a year. Gave it away to Veterans Something or Other rather than ebay. One nice thing from that was that she emerged from that and stated "I am never buying them anything ever again." A small victory, but a victory nonetheless!

Yeah, don't know what to do about the alcohol and there are some REALLY good breweries in the area. It helps with the kids, so...

@demo

Entertainment breaks down:

2016

Culture (museums, theater) 1226.33
Movies 732.6 :o
Kids Activities (swim, rock climbing, trampoline, etc) 910.02
Running Events (wife's tough mudder and other races) 852.27
Golf 385.03

2017

Movies 469.18
Culture 387.3
Kids Activities (same as above, plus some summer camps) 2185.6
Casino 212.99
Video Games 216.33

Upon a closer look, the merchandise category included some home improvement purchases, Barnes&Noble (wife loves the books), Joanns or Michaels, Marshalls, Old Navy, Lands End, Men's Wearhouse (work clothes for me), kids instrument rentals, pet supplies, REI/Cabelas, Walmart and Target mostly. Some other random crap here and there like Staples or Dollar Tree. Debit and checks were mostly under $50, so I think those are mostly kids field trips and dumb shit like that. Who knows where the cash went - chipping in for a group meal here or there or paying someone back or contributing to the secretary's christmas envelope, etc.

Is $200/per person/per month egregious food costs? It didn't strike me as too gross. I mean, there's 5 of us, and, granted, we buy too many pre-packaged foods but the boys like them and they're easy and don't generate fights. And also, I mean - 3 boys. They eat and eat yet they don't put on any weight! I actually don't expect this cost to go down until the oldest leaves for college.

As I said before, there's plenty of fat to trim for a motivated couple...but I'm not going to fight about it. I hope the wife is moving a bit towards me with her "never again" comment, but we shall see. I have plenty of my own fat to trim (see, e.g., liquor) before harping on her even if she is responsible for 70%+ of the total spent amount.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:56 am

As a follow-up, we had a conversation about the numbers (actually egged on by my 13 year old telling us he needed winter boots for a boy-scout winter camping event tonight) and together decided to "be more mindful" of our purchases, especially the ones involving "make it easy/convenient" regarding the kids. So, that could (dare I prophesy should?) reduce dining, entertainment and merchandise (including Amazon and Apple).

She seemed to be more open to the idea about "not using money as an easy fix to perceived problems". In other words, if the kids somewhat thoughtlessly say "I have a problem" such as "needing winter boots" and the knee-jerk reaction is to just go buy some because "they need it and we can afford it", I argued that we are 1) wasting money but more importantly 2) robbing them of the opportunity to learn the skills of a) figuring out a work-around, either together or on their own, b) learning what a true "need" is and c) learning to do without, to be uncomfortable. I think she's on board with that? Maybe? We've broached the frugality mindset a few times, but the discussions never went too well because I approached it from the money angle. But now, with "money as a solved problem", I feel more free to approach it from a more relaxed position of "yes we have the money, but what are we teaching our children?" point of view. I make her sound like a diva, and she's not. As she says she's frugal compared to her peer group. It's just that my philosophical peer group is you who live on 1-2 jacobs (I guess we're at 3 jacobs per person, so not completely out of the range here?! I do wonder where I would actually be at if I were single. Pretty damn close to 1 jacob per person in college and law school (other than tuition/books), but I've gotten soft), so our definitions of "need" are fairly wide apart.

Home should also come down since all of our piecemeal kitchen renos are now done with the purchase of a new fridge. Of course, if we move...Doctor/dentist will remain high for the foreseeable future since when one kid rolls off braces, the next will roll into them. Skiing/taekwando/soccer/musical instruments or some similar activities will also continue for the foreseeable future. Man, kids are expensive. We had a few years there when they were out of diapers and content to just be thrown outside for hours at a time. The halcyon days of post toddler / pre teen. Alas, no more.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:46 am

I wanted to copy this post into my journal as a reminder.
suomalainen wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:55 am
SustainableHappiness wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:03 am
This Month’s Big Idea
Although I knew this intuitively, this month really threw the fact that financial independence only solves a set of life issues into my face. Health is not guaranteed with FI, relationships are not grown through FI, the question of where to spend your time is not solved through FI. I am also confident in saying DW and I have moved into a stage of personal finances where the number is background to the lifestyle we desire. FI is now so much a habit (plus we are good at making money) the next question is, ok, now how about the rest of life?!
Amen to this. Personally, I have found that once you get to three kids (mmmmmmaybe two), “the rest of life” gets swallowed by the kids. They just chew up time, money and energy. Some days it’s wonderful and some days it sucks ass. I was reminded of this yesterday at a town-hall style meeting at work where one of the business leads said he was a recent empty-nester (in August) and he and his wife really enjoyed the time to “reconnect and rekindle” and “to learn a few things about myself”. He then said that the kids were back home for the holidays and when they left, he was way more exhausted than at any prior holiday season! When you’re in the thick of it, you sometimes don’t notice the energy requirement because you habituate and it becomes “what’s normal”.
I have a love/hate relationship with my children. I love them in a true "Christ-like" manner. I give them everything I can, for their benefit, to the best of my abilities, but unfortunately and unalterably filtered through my weaknesses - they get my best and my shit. I also love them as in liking them, discovering who they are and seeing them become little people, watching their quirks and personalities develop and smiling as they shine through in unexpected moments.

But I hate parenting. As a side-gig, it sucks ass. The hours are horrible, the pay is non-existent, the stress is off the charts and the ROI is variable. When they were little, the ROI was huge. Snuggling them while they slept on my chest; reading books to them while they sat on my lap; wrestling with them; playing "daddy mountain" (I'd hide under a blanket on my hands and knees and they'd either ride me like a horse and I'd try to knock them off or they'd try to sneak in under the blanket); talking to them as they babbled their way through new words. Now that they are big, the ROI sucks. Do your homework. Take out the trash. Scoop up the cat shit. No you can't play another hour of video games. No you still can't play another hour of video games. Nope, still can't play. Nope, not now either. Still no. Roll those eyes right on up to bed.

This too shall pass.

Edit: Re-reading this, I need to find a sense of humor about this teenage stuff. Letting it get under my skin is not going to be healthy. Any advice out there on dealing with teens? Or suggested reference materials?

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by jennypenny » Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:04 pm

I thought the middle school years were horrible but once they got to high school I liked my teenagers. I've always treated them like adults though under the guise that 'people used to get married at that age' yada yada. Lots of other parents have criticized me for it, so I'm always hesitant to mention it. I figure by the time they get to high school age they regularly see people drinking, doing drugs, smoking, cursing, having sex, dealing with unwanted pregnancies/abortions, etc. All of my kids have known other kids who've OD'd or committed suicide, too. That's a lot to deal with and I remind myself of that when they are driving me crazy with the constant emoting. Given what they deal with, I try to treat them like adults and give them some autonomy, albeit with some clearly defined boundaries.

A related discussion in 1task's journal from a while back (jumps right to my post but there are a couple of pages related to this topic) ... viewtopic.php?f=9&t=4660&start=50#p77714

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